“Balloon Night” by Tom Barbash is about Timkin, a man whose wife has left him for no apparent reason, right before their annual party to watch the staging of the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons from Tom’s strategically located apartment. Although he wants to believe she’ll be back, a level of denial that the reader probably doesn’t believe, he is forced to tell his party guests that the wife is out of town and will be coming back on Thanksgiving Day. The lie has to be come increasingly elaborate and he almost convinces himself, until one of their friends, who has guessed the truth, tells him the wife only married him because of his apartment anyway. And now his denial has to step up another gear, and it does.
This is an entertaining story, but I don’t feel I learned enough about Timkin and what motivates him to really sympathize with his plight. So much space is used in introducing the party guests that might better have been spent on showing the reader more of Timkin’s character and more of what has driven his wife away. And, most importantly, why Timkin is pushed into denial.